More on Cruciferous veggies

Patient Expert

I found my colleague, Jennifer Rackley's Sharpost about Cruciferous veggies and the gut - - a very important post and wanted to expand  on it a bit.

First, know that there are now two names for this family of vegetables -cruciferous is how  most of us  refer to them, but they are now more  commonly known in the nutrition field as  Brassica family vegetables.  If given the opportunity to bloom, the cruciferous vegetable plant  will produce flowers that have four petals in the formation of a cross.

While the most commonly known cruciferous veggies are broccoli and cauliflower the cruciferous, or brassica family is huge and includes these other wonderful vegetables: Arugula, Kale, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts, Turnip greens, Radishes, Rutabaga, Watercress, Collard greens, Kohl rabi, and Mustard Greens.

As Jennifer mentioned in her Sharepost, this family of vegetables can be a bit hard to digest, especially for those of us with IBD. I was unable to successfully eat most of these veggies for 10+ years.  But I found that with the introduction of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet - you can read more about my SCD experiences in my Shareposts - I am now able to eat all of these vegetables as well as every other kind of leafy green I found hard to digest.

In addition to all the great reasons Jennifer gave in her Sharepost about why IBDers should slowly add more cruciferous vegetables to their diet, this family of vegetables is also known to be great cancer fighters. In fact, kale is one of the best-known cancer fighting foods of which we are currently aware being very high in carotenoids. It is also exteremly high in a very absorbable form of calcium. In fact, the darker and leafier green a vegetable the more absorbable calcium in contains, which is a good thing for us IBDers, even if you're like me and allergic to dairy products. This  means we can get our daily calcium needs in a green vegetable.

If you are new to trying cruciferous vegetables the best advice is to add them s.l.o.w.l.y.,  in small amounts, like 1/4 cup to start, and cooked well. Also,  don't eat this family of veggies  on back-to-back days until you have no gut upset.

It took me about 3 months on the SCDiet, but I can now eat any of the cruciferous veggies multiple times per day. You can also work your way  up to eating sauerkraut, which is made with cabbage. Not only is the cabbage good for you, but the fermentation process that the sauerkraut goes through helps to provide natural probiotics that are super good for your gut. The only caveat, is that the sauerkraut cannot be pasteurized - this means  it was heated and that kills the good bacteria. You need to either make your own, which is quite easy, or buy a brand that specifically says it has not been heat pasteurized. I make my own now, but if memory serves me correctly  Bubba's brand  has all its natural probiotics intact. A word of caution, however, sauerkraut is potent and you don't need but a spoonful or two  to reap the benenfits. Don't go overboard  or your gut  just might. All things in moderation, please.